Russian conductor Semyon Bychkov made his Royal Opera debut in 2003 conducting Elektra. He has since returned to conduct Boris Godunov, The Queen of Spades, Lohengrin, Don Carlo, Tannhäuser, La bohème and Die Frau ohne Schatten for The Royal Opera.
Bychkov was born in St Petersburg and studied at the Glinka Choir School before moving to the Leningrad Conservatory to study with Ilya Musin, in his spare time playing volleyball for the Leningrad Dynamos. He won the 1973 Rachmaninoff Conducting Competition and soon after emigrated to the USA. He was appointed Chief Conductor of the Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra in 1980 and the following year made his professional operatic debut conducting Carmen at New York City Opera. He has gone on to develop a rich career balancing both symphonic and operatic repertory, working with orchestras and opera houses in London, Paris, Vienna, Milan, Berlin, Madrid, Chicago and New York, among others. His past positions include Music Director of Orchestre de Paris (1989–98), Principal Guest Conductor at St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra (1990–94) and Maggio Musicale, Florence (1992–8), and Chief Conductor at the Dresden Semperoper (1998–2003) and of the WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne (1997–2010). Recent opera engagements include Elektra (Teatro Real, Madrid), Otello (Metropolitan Opera, New York) and Tristan und Isolde (BBC Proms).
Bychkov’s extensive discography includes Lohengrin with the WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne (winner of the 2010 BBC Music Magazine Disc of the Year).